Given – A superb fingertip save in the first half was the prelude to a more involved second period. Unbeaten once again! 7
Richards – Linked up well when going forward in the first half, but needed to mark tighter and stop more crosses in the second period. 6
Toure – Fabulous covering and reading of the game, particularly in the first half. Held firm in the second. 7
Dunne – Despite the second half pressure, Dunney fought to ensure there weren’t any clear chances in the penalty area. 7
Bridge – Another impressive display, carrying the ball forward whenever possible. 7
Barry – Happy going forward in the first half, and equally at ease with the defensive side in the second, even if he wasn’t able to dominate. 7
Ireland – Looked happiest when playing at the heart of our attacking play. Tired in the second half, and loses a point for fluffing our best chance to put the game safe. 6
Wright-Phillips – Excellent first half when Wolves couldn’t contain him. Tired badly in the latter stages and ought to have been subbed. 8
Tevez – Demonstrated a lovely touch in setting up Adebayor for the goal. This wasn’t the only neat bit of link up play. The Argentinian still appears to be building up to full fitness. 7
Adebayor – Great turn and shot for the goal. Should have had a second when clean through, but his overall game was outstanding. 8
Robinho – Still decorating rather than dominating games. The disappointing scuffed shots were followed by a brilliant one from the least likely angle. Only a matter of time before the goals start to flow. 6
Bellamy – Desperately unlucky to find himself on the bench. The second half cameo didn’t work as nothing quite came off for the Welshman. 5
De Jong – Came on to late to change the course of the game, but still sat to deep. 5
Man of the match: Adebayor
Goals: Adebayor 18 for City.
As former City manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, was renowned for saying during his time in charge of England, “First half good, second half not so good”. Regardless, a win is a win, and Adebayor is the new hero of Eastlands, capping off another excellent display with the only goal.
City lined up in a similar 4-4-2 to last week at Blackburn; the only change being Tevez making his competitive debut in place of the unlucky Bellamy. At Blackburn, the Welshman had played in front of Adebayor using his pace to stretch Rovers defence. Today saw a more fluid formation with the interchanging of roles between Tevez, Adebayor, Robinho and Wright-Phillips. With Ireland breaking into the area, and even Barry getting forward at times, there was a myriad of attacking options. The fans were purring approval throughout the first half as chance after chance was created. Adebayor had calmed any nerves with a goal after 18 minutes. Good work from Robinho drew the defenders before he laid the ball off for Barry to cross. A half-clearance saw the ball land at the feet of Tevez who cushioned it first time into the path of Adebayor. A brilliant spin and drilled shot saw the ball fly in at the near post with Hennessey unable to react in time.
Thereafter, chances came and went. Robinho scuffed two shots then hit a cracker from a ridiculous angle which Hennessey just turned round. Tevez planted a header wide when he should have scored. Ireland laid off a Wright-Phillips cross for Adebayor to sting the palms of the Wolves keeper.
Throughout all this Wolves seemed overawed, with a lone striker in a system designed to try and contain City. Allowing this City side to attack is folly, but credit to Mick McCarthy for two half-time substitutions and a switch to 4-4-2, which gave them a lot more purpose going forward.
There was a hint of what was to come just before half-time when Given had to pull off a fingertip save to deny a Jarvis curler that was destined for the top corner.
City’s midfield wilted badly in the second half and Wolves were repeatedly driving through to our penalty area in numbers.Ã‚Â As at Blackburn, credit goes to Toure, Dunne and Given in holding firm. Ultimately, a shot from Keogh that cracked against the crossbar was the closest the visitors came to an equaliser.
City continued to create and spurn chances. Ireland was the most culpable when clean through after a one-two with Robinho. Adebayor knocked the ball to far when rounding the keeper and was unable to squeeze in his shot. Bellamy came on for the tired Tevez with the hope of adding a more competitive edge, but it wasn’t to be for the Welshman. Nothing quite went right for him and he added to the missed chances when unable to reach a tantalising cross from Robinho.
Tactically, Hughes was outmanouvred by McCarthy in the second period, leaving it far to late to bring on De Jong to bolster the midfield. Ireland and Wright-Phillips faded badly as the midweek exertions against Barcelona seemed to catch up with the Blues. As a result, there was surely a case for using all three susbstitutes. We were crying out for the tackling of Zabaleta, possibly on the right flank in front of Richards, or Onuoha in place of Richards.
Once again to few crosses were blocked at source, though Bridge did have a good game overall. The arrival of Joleon Lescott will be welcome, but it was conceding the midfield and failing to stop crosses that was the problem here, rather than the centre of defence. Toure impressed once again, particularly when coming across to cover Richards. It brought back memories of Distin covering our left-backs of yester-year, and was a sign of the professionalism the former Arsenal man brings to defensive duties.
Ultimately we rode out stoppage time and greeted the final whistle with a lot more relief than we should have. Despite the concerns at the back, a third clean sheet in the space of a week is not to be sniffed at and Hughes was able to accentuate the positives without to much criticism.
“On chances created, we should have put the game to bed quite early on.
“But some of our play in the first half was outstanding and Adebayor’s play with Tevez was really good. They are quality players and have a mutual respect for what each can produce.
“We stood up to what Wolves threw at us later on and it completes a great week with three games, three wins and three clean sheets.”
“I don’t think we deserved a point, but we nearly earned one. There’s a big difference between the two. City missed loads of chances while we had chances to get something out of it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and almost did.”
“When we have teams penned in like that for the back four and the goalkeeper it is about concentration levels.
“That was the case against Wolves. I didn’t have much to do but when I did I had to be in tune. It is all about not getting carried away with the exciting football that we do play and make sure the back door is shut.
“We have momentum on our side and it was important that we followed up the win at Blackburn with another here so we have to be pleased.”
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Following victories against Blackburn and Barcelona, the Blues will be kicking off their home campaign full of confidence against newly promoted Wolves. With the club encouraging supporters to bring their flags and inflatables, it promises to be a fantastic atmosphere in a sold-out fixture.
Wolves won’t stand a chance, or will they? Regular followers of the Blues will recognise this as having the potential for a classic “Typical City” scenario. Of course, Garry Cook and co. are doing their utmost to banish such phrases from our new look club, but I’m taking nothing for granted just yet.
After picking up their first points with a victory over Wigan, Mick McCarthy’s side will be full of confidence, but short on strikers with Andy Keogh the only one fully fit. New signing Kevin Doyle is likely to be on the bench. This could mean a repeat of the five man midfield deployed against Wigan, which could pose problems for City if Hughes repeats last Saturday’s formation.
Against Blackburn, Hughes surprisingly went with just Barry and Ireland in the centre of midfield, reasoning that Rovers tend to bypass the middle with long balls. McCarthy’s sides tend to try and play good football, so it will be interesting to see which formation Hughes goes with.
It’s also far from clear who will be fit to play. Robinho (ankle), Adebayor (groin), Bridge and Richards all had minor injuries which prevented them being risked against Barcelona. Tevez will be better for his run out at the Nou Camp, but still can’t be considered a certain starter. The complete absence of De Jong on Wednesday night implies the Dutchman may not be fully fit either.
If he is fit, there may be the temptation to play him alongside Barry to combat a five man midfield of Wolves. If this is the case my predicted line up would be:
Given, Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Tevez, Adebayor.
With a lone striker, Tevez rather than Wright-Phillips may play on the right to give the mouthwatering triumverate of Robinho, Adebayor and Tevez.
If Hughes goes 4-4-2, then it’s likely to be the same line-up as last week:
Given, Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor, Bellamy.
If there’s any doubts about the fitness of Robinho, expect to see Petrov. The Bulgarian looks like he’s chomping at the bit for some first team action.
“Our system worked very well on Tuesday but this is another game.
“City will play differently, they played 4-4-2 last weekend, so we’ll have another look at the video today and see what we think.”
“Our home form was excellent last year so we want to replicate that and if possible increase the number of wins we had,”
“If we do that, we have made a good start in terms of away form and we could have a really good season.
“Wolves have had a good preparation. They are a big club with big expectations. Early in the season, promoted sides tend to be really strong.”
Prediction: 3-0 to City.
Mark Hughes press conference